Ever wondered how some people appear to maintain beautiful healthy gardens effortlessly while others struggle? Surprisingly, healthy outdoor gardens do not always require a lot of work. Just some clever advance planning and regular light maintenance will go a long way in maintaining a healthy garden.
Here are our top 8 tips for healthy outdoor gardens.
Tip 1: Pick the right spot for your plants
Whether you are starting up a new garden or working with an existing garden, it pays in the long run if you could spend a few days observing (and recording before you forget) which parts of your garden get the most sunshine and which parts of your garden are in the shade most of the time.
Then ensure that the parts of the garden that receive the most sun have plants that love full sun or lots of it. And the shady parts of the garden should have plants that require less sunlight or prefer shade. Not all plants are the same! Some love sun, some prefer partial sun/shade and some are shade plants. The difference in location makes a difference to their survival and the long-term success of your garden. If necessary, transplant plants into spots that suit them best.
Tip 2: Deadhead flowering plants regularly
Pinch off flowers as they droop and dry. This will encourage your plant to produce more blooms. Some flowers develop seeds of fruit as soon as their petals fall, diverting the plant’s energy from making more flowers.
Deadheading will result in a healthy garden over the long run as it also improves the look of your garden, keeping it fresh. Besides, wet petals may stick to leaves and rot on them, leading to unsightly brown patches.
Tip 3: Do not overmow your lawn
The height of your lawn should vary according to the season. In growing season, it’s ok to mow low as the lawn will grow quickly. In the colder months, when your lawn is likely to go dormant, mowing too low may result in the lawn being prone to more weeds.
Resist the urge to mow too low thinking that you will be mowing less frequently. Most grasses prefer to strike a balance between the size of their root systems and length of their blades. When the roots and the grass blades are in the right balance, the lawn will be at its healthiest and provide a lush green look with fewer weeds.
Mowing can help your lawn grow thicker because the tip of each grass blade contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When the lawn is mowed, these tips are removed, thereby encouraging the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.
Tip 4: Soak your garden weekly
Give your garden a good long weekly soak. That means watering to the extent that the soil gets at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. This allows the water make its way down to the roots and encourage your plants to grow deep roots. Short frequent waterings result in water that remains at the surface which is more likely to evaporate rather than penetrate to the roots.
Tip 5: Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day
Watering on a hot sunny afternoons may result in moisture lost to evaporation rather than soaking the ground. There is also a minor risk of leaf scorch depending the heat. Having said that, if you’re experiencing a few days of scorching heat, it is worthwhile watering whenever you can to reduce plants withering or dying from heat and lack of moisture.
Tip 6: Improve soil quality
Soil does get depleted of nutrients from time to time. It is wise to pay regular attention to the quality of soil. Some plants also use certain nutrients more than others. Using the right type of fertiliser for each section of the garden will do wonders. There are fertilisers specially formulated for citrus plants, flowering plants, roses, lawn, etc. So use the right product for the various parts of the garden. You may also enrich the soil by adding compost, manure, peat moss, etc.
Tip 7: Get on top of weeds
Healthy gardens tend to have little weeds. Bare spots in your garden are more likely to have weeds. There are a few ways to prevent and control weeds – use a weed mat, weed killer or mulch. Mulch is especially great for covering the area under plants, to keep weeds under control by smothering them. In between plants, you may consider laying weed mats or even ground covers that don’t require much sunlight or water. Shade-loving succulents can act as good ground covers in such instances. Besides these, ensure that you physically remove weeds as and when they appear.
Tip 8: Trim & prune regularly
Trimming and pruning frequently by removing older stems and leaves encourages a plant to direct its energy into new growth. This will help keep the plant looking young and healthy. It also improves air circulation and allows light to reach inner and lower leaves. Pruning away unhealthy or damaged parts of the plant also reduces the risk of disease, while controlling the overall size and shape of the plant.